Abstract: (Withdrawn) Effects of Supervision on Negative Affect and Psychological Distress: Evidence from Chinese Social Workers (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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443P (Withdrawn) Effects of Supervision on Negative Affect and Psychological Distress: Evidence from Chinese Social Workers

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Chien-Chung Huang, PhD, Professor, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Bin Tu, PhD, Professor and Vice Dean, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, China
Meifen Yang, PhD, Assistant Professor, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou, China

Supervision in social work involves administrative, educative, and support functions that supports social workers, protects clients, and ensures that professional quality services are delivered by social workers. Studies have shown that supervision improves professional capacity of social workers and reduces work stress of social workers. However, majority of the studies were based on Western countries and largely from qualitative studies. Additionally, there are evidence that Chinese social workers experience high emotional stress such as negative affect and psychological distress.


Data and samples: We used 489 social workers in Guangzhou, China to examine the effects of supervision on negative affect and psychological distress in Chinese social workers in 2021. The data was collected through an online anonymous survey. We randomly selected 54 out of the 180 Guangzhou social work service stations to conduct the survey to front-line social workers. The response rate was about 71%.

Measures: Negative affect was measured by the short form version of the International Positive and Negative Affect Schedule. Psychological distress was assessed by the Kessler 6 Psychological Distress Scale. Supervision was assessed in three dimensions: frequency, type, and satisfaction. Frequency of supervision was measured by asking respondents the frequency of his/her supervision meeting in the last year. The options were 1) 3 times or less, 2) 4-6 times, 3) 7-9 times, and 4) 10 times or more. Type of supervision was assessed by asking respondents the type of supervision: individual, group, or both individual and group supervision. Satisfaction with supervision was measured by asking respondents whether they were satisfaction with supervision in following items: case management, program design and implementation, resource integration and utilization, profession knowledge, professional ethics, ability to oversee team members, and emotional counseling and support. Each affirmative response received a score of 1, and the final score of satisfaction with supervision was the sum of above 7 items.


The findings indicate that supervision reduces negative affect and psychological distress in social workers. The effects were stronger for social workers with high job demands and had frequently supervisions and satisfaction with supervision. Social workers who received both individual and group supervision appear to have lower negative affect and psychological distress when job demands were high compared to social workers who only received individual supervision. However, the estimate suggests that the supervision effect was not evident if the frequency of supervision was less than 6 times annually and if social workers with low satisfaction with supervision. Thus, it is important to maintain frequent supervision even though job demands were high, and time was limited. Supervisors needs to understand the needs of social workers and provide suitable supervision and advice to social workers. This is important as the average of satisfaction with supervision in the sampled social workers was not high.

Conclusions and Implications:

The findings emphasize the significance of supervision as a buffer factor on reducing negative affect and psychological distress when facing high job demands in Chinese social workers, and provide implications for social work supervision in China.